Monthly Archives: February 2009

Whatever happened to philosophy?

A few weeks ago, I blogged about a Vatican conference on evolution which refuses to allow discussion of intelligent design. I contended that intelligent design, as such, is an exercise in neither science nor theology but philosophy: looking for what the implications of science tell us about the greater reality of the Cosmos.

When Aristotle developed the science we call metaphysics, he was doing just that. Many in professional philosophy question the exact meaning of “metaphysics” in the titles that later scholars gave to Aristotle’s works. Literally “meta” means “beyond,” so “metaphysics” could be “the *science* that is beyond physics” or it could just be “the *book* that comes after Physics.

In either case, Aristotle’s book that we know as Metaphysics takes the principles he outlines in the book Physics and uses them to try and find clues about the ultimate origins and purpose of the universe–to look for the definition of what it means “to be,” and to seek out what we call “God.”

Once Christianity took over, that became the paradigm of philosophy: searching for God through nature; looking for what we can know about God and what we can know about morality through human reason.

Somewhere around or after the Enlightenment, however, Christians seemed to decide that this was a futile effort. It became generally accepted (for reasons that remain unclear to me) that Aquinas’s adaptation of Aristotle was disproven, and that such efforts by Christian apologists and theologians to seek God in science are futile. Part of the blame for this is to be placed on the Protestants. But another part is to be blamed on the Darwinists. Perhaps *that* is the real danger of Darwinism to Christianity.

Evolution itself does not disprove God. There were disputes between established science and the Bible long before Darwin. But when Marx co-opted Darwin’s research, those inclined to atheism found themselves a kind of “atheist Bible,” and it became their absolute dictum that science could disprove religion.

Protestants, not used to philosophy, along with some facets of the Catholic world, rebelled but implicitly accepted Marx’s argument. They turned against science.

And, somehow, in the past 2 centuries, philosophy has largely been abandoned in general. The formal discipline of philosophy was relegated to an abstract academic department.

The movemeent led to several innovations in philosophy:
1 . The Marxist-Darwinist paradigm opened the door for a new wave of ethicists, mainly the Pragmatists and Utilitarians.
2. Metaphysics lost its original purpose and floundered a while. At first, philosophers mostly abandoned metaphysics, considering it a “done deal,” and turned to epistemology (positivism, hermeneutics, phenomenology).
3. To the extent it remained, metaphysics became a matter of abstraction–existentialism.

What was left of Christian philosophy was subsumed into apologetics (the argument of my undergraduate thesis was that C. S. Lewis, had he lived in a previous age, would have been considered a Christian philosopher, as well as an apologist).

Before, it was taken for granted that scientific inquiry pointed to God, but that we had to turn to phliosophy for the process. Now, it is taken for granted that “science” is sufficient in itself. We have people like Richard Dawkins and P.Z. Myers practicing bad philosophy and caling it science. I say “bad philosophy” not just because they’re wrong but because they are amateurs trying to practice metaphysics while still calling it science. They are basically denying not just the necessity of theology but the necessity of metaphysics as a discipline. They do not acknowledge the methodologies or fundamental questions of both disciplines. Instead, as I’ve argued elsewhere, atheists are marked by their lack of desire to explore anything outside their comfort zones.

We have heard, since the death of William F. Buckley, Jr., that conservatism needs a “new Buckley.” In a very interesting critique of talk radio, John Derbyshire criticizes how the conservative movement has allowed itself to be run by its “low brow” propagandists.

Derbyshire’s argument is complex, and I’m not going to critique it in this post. However, I will emphasize what I agree with, and what I’ve said for a long time: American conservatism lacks a philosophical leader. I would argue that contemporary progressivism lacks one, as well. Both spectrums argue entirely from buzzwords and presuppositions. Neither side really engages in introspection any more. Neither side stops to examine its first principles or whether its agenda fits with its first principles.

Derbyshire compares Rush Limbaugh very negatively to WFB and quotes Obama supporter Chrisopher Buckley saying as such. It’s hard to say. WFB at his worst was more offensive than Rush can be, and Rush at his best is fairly philosophical. The Way Things Ought to Be is really a good book. It is certainly oriented to a popular audience in style and tone, but it outlines a fairly consistent conservative worldview.

Over the years, though, Limbaugh has become arrogant; he has become what he originally railed against, and his drug issues didn’t help. There are certain matters, especially the ones pertaining to Bush Derangement Syndrome, where Rush’s commentary loses the underpinnings of conservative principles. One of the onse that grates me the most is his insistence that conservatism is optimistic.

Conservatism may or may not need a Buckley, but it definitely needs a new Ruseell Kirk.

Meanwhile, as I’ve commented many times before, religious conservatism handicaps itself by being too religious. Recently, in a Catholic Answers forums thread, I made a comment about Natural Law. The reply was that Natural Law was a controversial subject even in Catholic circles, that a recent Catholic Answers thread on the subject got so heated that it was locked.

[sigh]

Protestants say, “It’s in the Bible.” This leads to secularists basing their arguments on a) dissing the Bible in general or b) quoting passages of the Bible that ssupport *their* cause.
Catholics say, “The Church teaches that . . .” This leads to the question, “Why should I care if I’m not Catholic?” or “The Church may teach it, but most Catholics don’t follow it.”

Thus, I stumbled this evening on William Saletan’s New York Times review of Embryo by Robert P. George and my friend (and, hopefully, future Ph.D. advisor), Christopher Tollefsen. Saletan seems genuinely puzzled at the “novelty” that George and Tollefsen base their arguments on science, rather than religion. They try to formulate a scientific definition of human life. It’s basically the same thing many pro-lifers have done for decades, only with the sophistication of professional Catholic philosophers. Saletan, however, doesn’t get it. He relies on the old liberal argument–a religious one–that we must talk about whether the embryo is an “individual” or a “person”.

In the classic episode of Star Trek: the Next Generation “The Measure of a Man,” which originally aired 20 years ago(!), JAG officer Philippa Louvois asks, “Does Data have a soul? . . . I don’t know if I have a soul.” She rightly gives that question up to “philosophers and saints,” though she does so by making the legal declaration–later echoed in Planned Parenthood v. Casey–that people have the right to determine for themselves whether they have souls.

So, again, Christian discourse in public fails because we are not used to philosophy as social discourses. Christiaans who *try* to argue philosophically, in even teh most “lowbrow” manner, are generally undercut by our culture’s complete denial of the possibility of philosophical inquiry.

An articulate, intelligent Christian is put on cable news (forget the alleged agendas of different networks; they’re all the same this way), up against some screaming, cussing, acid-tongued liberal “comedian”. The Chrisitian speaker (whether it’s the late Jerry Falwell or the late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus or the very current Dr. Janet Smith) tries to make an articulate position but is cut off, outshouted, and dismissed as a fool for his inability to keep it up.

We need more philosophers. We need to return philosophy to the center of disciplines. That our social discourse has dissolved to shouting and satire, so that even the most basic philosophical aproaches to discourse are rejected outright, is one of the surest signs of our society’s impending collapse.

Another Liturgy of the Hours Podcast

Elizabeth Scalia at Inside Catholic highly recommends this site, which features multiple readers, antiphonal recitation, and even some full-fledged hymnody. I found the voices somewhat annoying, however. While Fr. Roderick’s plain reading in “PrayStation Portable” may not be aesthetically pleasing, he’s much easier to follow along with if you’re listening and not reading, especially with noisy kids in the background.

"Brain Death" test kills patients, says expert

Dr. Cicero Coimbra, head of Neurology at Federal University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, spoke at a conferennce on organ donation in Rome last week. He contends that the “apnoea test”, used to identify “brain death” in brain damaged patients, deprives the brain of oxygen for several minutes and, in fact, causes brain death–with organ donor officials standing by with papers in hand.

Liberal Catholics threaten to bomb Australian bishop

Now, we are repeatedly told that pro-lifers and religious conservatives are violent. We are always being compared to terrorists.

Yet, “peace-loving” liberals use threatening behavior all the time.

Consider this case: “Fr.” Peter Kennedy has been pastor of St. Mary’s Church in South Brisbaane, Australia, for 28 years. Here’s an assessment of this “Catholic” parish:

The Sydney Morning Herald described St, Mary’s as a “green-leftist New Age drop-in centre” that Fr. Kennedy is refusing to leave, despite repeated requests by the Archbishop.
“Footage of Mass – or whatever it was,” the Morning Herald description continued, “at St. Mary’s on ABC-TV this week showed a pony-tailed man – not a priest – in a bright shirt waving around a giant Communion host in a haphazard way, while people sat on the floor at his feet. It looked more like a yoga session, with meditation and lay people taking to the pulpit to give ‘sermons’ which have nothing to do with the Bible.”

Archbishop John Bathersby has dismissed Fr. Kennedy and ordered him to leave the premises. The priest is refusing to leave.
Some supporter of Fr. Kennedy has threatened to bomb the archbishop’s residence.

Here’s a thought: Archbishop Bathersby could do what Archbishop Burke did and just put the parish under interdict.

Parents say disabled kids’ host is "scary"

BBC has a kids’ show called the Bedtime Hour, and co-host Cerrie Burnell only has half an arm, due to a genetic disorder. Parents are complaining that they won’t let their kids watch the show for fear Burnell’s disability will scare the kids, or that the BBC is going “overboard with diversity.”

?????

This is the same mentality that says, “Don’t talk to kids about death or illness. Lie to them.”

This is the same mentality that says, “Don’t let the kids watch ‘scary shows'”, not out of concern for their spiritual development but out of a desire to keep them “happy and carefree”, to avoid having to deal with any kind of sadness or pain.

Archbishop Chaput tells it like it is

Speaking in Toronto, Archbishop Charles “My name rhymes with ‘slap you'” Chaput recently called on Catholics not to engage in the “spirit of adulation bordering on servility” towards our new president. The speech in its entirety is pretty hard-hitting, but I particularly like this part:

“I think modern life, including life in the Church, suffers from a phony
unwillingness to offend that poses as prudence and good manners, but too often
turns out to be cowardice. Human beings owe each other respect and appropriate
courtesy. But we also owe each other the truth — which means candor.”

He also notes that we have no duty to respect our leaders when they violate natural law.

Archbishop O’Brien calls on the Legion to come clean

Baltimore’s Archbishop Edwin O’Brien, who previously ordered the Legion of Christ in his archdiocese to submit to the same reporting standards as other religious orders or be kicked out, has given the first statement by a bishop regarding the revelations about Fr. Maciel, and they’re scathing (pretty much what I’ve been saying since I first learned of this stuff 4 years ago):

Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien told the religious order’s director general that he cannot in good conscience recommend that anyone join the Legion or Regnum Christi, its affiliated lay movement.
. . .
“It seems to me and many others that this was a man with an entrepreneurial genius who, by systematic deception and duplicity, used our faith to manipulate others for his own selfish ends,” Archbishop O’Brien told The Catholic Review in a telephone interview following his Feb. 20 Rome meeting with Father Alvaro Corcuera, director general of the Legion.
“Father Maciel deserves our prayers, as every Christian who dies does, that he’ll be forgiven and we leave the final judgment to God as to what his life and death amounted to,” Archbishop O’Brien said.
Saying that the Legion’s founder “leaves many victims in his wake,” the archbishop called for the “full disclosure of his activities and those who are complicit in them or knew of them and of those who are still refusing to offer disclosure.”
. . .
“This is not about orthodoxy,” he said. “It is about respect for human dignity for each of its members.”

"Is Barack Obama the Messiah?"

Mark Shea linked this blog that affectionately (?) recounts the Obamassiah phenomenon.

Now, as Mark has pointed out in different posts for the past year or so, some of this stuff is the same kind of stuff Evangelicals said about Bush 10 years ago. Some of it really is just “religious liberals” saying “We’re praying for him” or “God did this”. Some of it is no different than the celebrity idolatry that goes on all the time in our society (“I’ll never wash this hand again”).

However, the blog provides a stunning archive of some of the blatant iconography that’s out there, the many songs/hymns written about him, the strange videos made by celebrities, and the key quotations from Obama himself and his supporters.

Here they are, the two quotes from Obama himself which directly go against Catechism 676 and prove that a vote for Obama was a mortal sin and perhaps an act of apostasy:

“… a light will shine through that window, a beam of light will come down upon you, you will experience an epiphany … and you will suddenly realize that you must go to the polls and vote for Obama”
– Barack Obama Lebanon, New Hampshire.January 7, 2008.

“I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment – this was the time – when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals. Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.”
Obama’s Nomination Speech, 6/3/8

Liberals make fun of people who see Mother Teresa in cinammon buns, then they go and sell Obama’s breakfasts on EBay.

On June 5, 2008, Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., said that they should add a book to the Bible about Barack Obama.

There’s a piece from the Daily Kos about astrological signs pointing to Obama.

There’s a link to the San Francisco Chronicle article about Obama being an “enlightened being”

Marc Tillman, a philosophy lecturer at Catholic University of America (he should be fired) suggested that Obama is the “Platonic philosopher king we’ve been waiting for for 2,400 years”. Given the practical applicatoins of Plato’s Republic (destruction of the nuclear family, eugenics, a military state, elimination of free speech), I can’t see how any Catholic would want to see Plato’s vision realized in history.

On 7/10/8, Spike Lee said we’ll have to start measuring years based upon Obama, and that Obama represents a “seismic change in the universe.”

Here’s Michelle Obama’s famous speech proclaiming the end of the First Amendment:

“Barack Obama WILL REQUIRE YOU to work. He is going to DEMAND that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation and that you move out of your comfort zone. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage.

Deepak Chopra’s “Quantum Leap” Peace.

Ezra Klein, in “Obama’s Gift,” says Obama is the triumph of Gnostic Dualism over the Christian worldview: “He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh”

And the stuff on this site goes back long before the presidential campaign. Interesting, since I saw this coming back in 2004. An April 2007 Men’s Vogue article quotes a joint appearance by Obama and Morgan Freeman, in which the now-President says of Freeman (referring to his role in Evan Almighty), “This guy was God before I was.”

Of course, all of this is based in part upon two major deceptions:

1) the Hollywood image that the AntiChrist is someone people won’t like, someone blatantly “evil.”
2) the image promoted for the last 200 years or so that Jesus Christ as a “nice guy” that people liked, the WWJD mentality.

So, Obama is charismatic and gets crowds, and people like him. And they say, “He’s just like Jesus.”
Nevermind that Jesus deeply offended people by calling them to a higher standard of virtue, that they tried to kill Him quite frequently.

And they say, “George Bush was the antichrist. He was so unlikeable. Obama’s likeable. He’s the second coming of Christ.”

Jesus said to them in reply, “See that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and they will deceive many. You will hear of wars and reports of wars; see that you are not alarmed, for these things must happen, but it will not yet be the end. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be famines and earthquakes from place to place. All these are the beginning of the labor pains.

Then they will hand you over to persecution, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of my name. And then many will be led into sin; they will betray and hate one another.

Many false prophets will arise and deceive many; and because of the increase of evildoing, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come.
. . .
Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days. . . If anyone
says to you then, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not
believe it
. False messiahs and false prophets will arise, and they will perform signs and wonders so great as to deceive, if that were possible, even the elect.
Behold, I have told it to you beforehand.
So if they say to you, ‘He is in the desert,’ do not go out there; if they say, ‘He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. (Matt 24:4-28)

For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief at night. When people are saying, “Peace and security,” then sudden disaster comes upon them, like labor pains upon a pregnant woman,and they will not escape. But you, brothers, are not in darkness, for that day to overtake you like a thief. For all of you are children of the light and children of the day. We are not of the night or of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober. . . . But since we are of the day, let us be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet that is hope for salvation. (1 Thess 5:2-9).

God is amazing!

There are so many amazing sea creatures that we don’t even see or know about.

Case in point: Macropinna microstoma, the “barreleye fish”. It’s this fish that lives so deep in the ocean that a) the photographs of living specimens are usually too dark to see and b) the fish that are brought up are usually crushed by the pressure.

However, researchers recently managed to catch a living specimen and bring it to the surface. Turn sout the fish has a transparent head! Its eyes rotate around inside its transparent head and can see in many directions.

Traditional Latin Mass readings for Ash Wednesday

Epistle: Joel 2:12-19 : Call a fast! Get everyone together, blow trumpets and call a fast! And if you do it, God will bless you abundantly afterwards
Gospel Matt 6:6-21: Dont’ be like the hypocrites.

Why on Ash Wednesday do we read the Gospel about not making a show of our fasting and not covering our head with Ashes?

Catholicism is full of paradoxes.

The One Thing

The recent House episode I blogged about below and the “OctoMom” situation touch upon a parallel issue in the sacraments of Holy Orders and Holy Matrimony. In both cases, there is only one thing that distinguishes that vocation. It is the one thing that makes that vocation a sacrament. And, without that one thing, there’s no point.

In the case of the priesthood, it’s the ability to administer the sacraments, particularly Eucharist and Reconciliation. The primary reason to be a priest ought to be the desire to say Mass and/or the desire to forgive sins. It should be a longing to have actual power to bestow God’s grace in the sacraments for the salvation of souls. If a priest does not have that desire, his vocation is doomed. There are many other duties involved in the priesthood. There are many other reasons the priesthood may be appealing. But all of those should be ancillary.

In the “Unfaithful” episode of House, Fr. Daniel accuses House of being a hypocrite. Stating explicitly one of the show’s themes, Fr. Dan says that House puts on the air of being misanthropic yet he is in a career that involves helping people, and he has a real desire to help them. House denies that he desires to help people, and says his main motivation is solvaing puzzles. “Helping people is only collateral damage.” Whatever House’s protestations, “solving puzzles” should be the ancillary. There are lots of ways a curious people can “solve puzzles,” but one becomes a doctor specifically to help heal people.

Ironically, Fr. Dan says that he became a priest to “help people,” which is, in a vague sense, the wrong motivation for the priesthood. If his motivation was to “help people get to heaven,” that would be one thing. A week or two ago, the kids watched an episode of My Catholic Family on EWTN about Bl. Pierre Giorgio Frassati. Bl. Pierre Giorgio wanted to help the poor. A priest advised him that, if he wanted to help the poor specifically, he should remain a layman because laymen can earn money to give to the poor and laymen can pursue political activism to help the poor.

The priesthood is a very demanding vocation to pursue if one’s only motivation is to “help the poor.” There are plenty of ways to do that. Priests serve in administrative positions, but there are also many ways to do *that*.

These days, laity perform many professions in the Church that used to be performed by priests only. This is both a positive fruit of Vatican II and an unfortunate side effect of the vocations crisis. Some would argue that turning those careers over to laity has been a factor in the vocations crisis. However, as St. Francis Xavier would argue, priests should be busy about saving souls, not arguing theology in university or crunching budgetary numbers in a chancery.

Yes, priests can have positions of power or influence, but that most certainly should not be a motivation for either the priesthood or for being a lay employee of the Church.

If contemplative prayer is the goal, one could just as easily be a cloistered monk or hermit as be a parish priest.

The ability to administer Sacraments (save baptism and holy matrimony) is the only thing that makes the priesthood different. A man who wants to be a priest should have a desire to stand at the altar which exceeds the desire to be united with a woman.

Similarly, there is only one thing (or two, depending upon how you look at it) which sets marriage apart from any other vocation: conjugal unity and the begetting of children.

Like the priesthood, marriage involves many duties and many benefits. But, also like the priesthood, most of those duties and benefits can be found in other vocations and relationships.

You’re a man and want someone to cook your meals for you? Hire a cook.
You’re a woman and want security? Buy a doberman.

A brother and sister can live together like Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert in Anne of Green Gables (or the real life “couple” who inspired them) and adopt a kid. Again, there’s nothing wrong with unmarried people adopting, other than the question of a child having parents of both genders (which the Cuthberts give Anne, anyway).

But marriage is the only moral way for people to have intercourse *or* to beget their own children. Yes, there are other situations in which both these things can occur. These days, they can even be separated, as in the case of Nadya Suleman.

But just as a Protestant minister can pretend to preside at the “Lord’s Supper,” but there is no sacrament there, or a liberal woman can pretend to be “ordained” illicitly by some schismatic bishop, so too can people mock marital fidelity by their fornication or adultery or by artificial insemination.

The thing that distingusihes marital union is the principle and obligation of fidelity. People have a natural desire for union with the opposite sex. If one sees marriage as the only licit opportunity for such union–and the only relationship in which such union can be truly and fully realized–then marriage is exclusive and for life. As soon as one entertains the possibility that it can be OK to have that experience outside marriage, then there is not much point in being married. Marriage, as it is in our culture, becomes merely a convention or a legal arrangement, whose primary “benefits” are matters of legal convenience.

Ash Wednesday

“All aboard for Natchez, Cairo and St. Louis!”

T. S. Eliot loves epigraphs, especially obscure ones.

I.

“Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn”

These opening lines have an obvious context in regard to Ash Wednesday: the turning away from sin. But, in Eliot’s poetry, where the spiritual journey is paralleled to Eliot’s own life and to poetry itself, the lines have other meanings. While he never actually visited Vivienne in the mental hospital, “Ash Wednesday” can be read as his conflict over that fact, and the “Woman” being his wife, idealized in her institutionalized state, as Eliot apparently wanted a muse more than a wife.

“Desiring this man’s gift and that man’s scope”

obvious Shakespearean allusion to ambition. Eliot integrates quotations and paraphrases into his poetry so he can express at once the fragmentation of western culture and the need for cultural continuity. If the poem is read as the journey of the poet as poet, alluding to Shakespeare in the context of envying others carries a kind of circular meaning. Prufrock said, “I am not Prince Hamlet,” and this speaker quotes Shakespeare as if to say, “I will no longer hope to be as great as Shakespeare.”

“(Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?)”

Eliot’s narrators were old, even when he was young. He was 42 when this poem was published.

“Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?”

In a spiritual sense, the older man has lost his “youthful vigor.” His desire for sin has decreased, making it easier to pursue purity, so he has lost his “hope to turn” back to sin. The “usual reign” of concupiscence (or, perhaps more specifically, lust) has lost its power.
Culturally, the middle-aged Eliot has spent his career mourning the “vanished power” of the classical cultural model.

” Because I do not hope to know again
The inform glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again”

Punctuation and spacing are very important in Eliot’s poetry. Grammatically, there should be a period at the end of this stanza, but he leaves it out, because he doesn’t want you to pause. He wants the thought here to carry into the next.
“Infirm glory” and “transitory power” indicate something that is fleeting. It’s something that’s passed, and has come and gone before. Possibly love? Artistic inspiration? Or spiritual consolation?

Perhaps “there is nothing again” refers to the Dark Night.

” Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And waht is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessed face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
upon which to rejoice”
One of Eliot’s typical metaphysical reflections leads to an acceptance of simply being.
He renounces the “blessed face.” What does this mean? The “blessed face” of his wife? Is it the true “Blessed Face”? Is he renouncing the desire to see God’s face? Accepting his Dark Night?
Eventually, the visionary has to accept when the visions are gone. And the artistic visionary has to accept when those youthful inspirations have dried up.

Things are so empty that the speaker must “construct something upon which to rejoice” in his imagination, perhaps indicating that the visions in the rest of the poem are such imaginings. Is he constructing a vision of himself actually visiting his wife and finding the hospital to be this ideal place, a heaven on earth? Is he constructing a new cultural ideal to replace the lost classical model? Is he constructing his own art to replace the lost artistic inspiration? Or his he constructing a religious vision to replace the lost spiritual consolations?

Smile of a Child TV

There is a relatively new cable channel offering 24 hour Christian programs for children, called Smile of a Child TV. It started in 2005. In addition to being available in limited markets, it is available online. Unlike networks that have only specific shows for online download, Smile of a Child has the network feed itself online. This is great in some ways, but of course it limits the ability to see certain programs, since one can neither download the specific program nor record it, like on traditional TV.

For example, Smile TV carries Superbook, but only at 4 AM Eastern Time.

Another victory for "adult stem cell" "shysters" in South America

In 2007, Michael Flounders, who suffers from a broken neck, went to Ecuador for a “controversial” adult stem cell treatment (only “controversial” because the American medical and political establishment wants to force embryonic research down everyone’s throats).

He now has:
a) feeling in his legs
b) hair growing on his legs which hadn’t grown since his accident
c) strengthening of muscles in his legs and abdomen.

Chalk another win to adult stem cells

Researchers at UCLA have figured out how to make skin cells into nerve cells. Go figure. They call this a “replacement” for embryonic stem cells. Yet, no one has successfully turned embryonic stem cells into nerve cells, so it’s hardly a “replacement” for a method that doesn’t exist.

Northwest Jesuits file for bankruptcy

In the midst of the recent news about the Legion of Christ, the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as a result of millions of dollars in lawsuits. SNAP is covering this, but apparently no one else is.

Once again, groups like SNAP and “Voice of the Faithful”, along with the mainstream media, try to tell us that liberalization of the Church will solve this problem. They tell us it is a problem of “pedophilia,” not “homosexuality,” even though the overwhelming number of victims have been teenaged boys victimized by priests who refer to themselves as homosexual, who have openly preached in favor of homosexuality, and/or who have been outright homosexual activists.

There are very few exceptions to this rule, and they prove it. The Legion of Christ is considered a “conservative” order. Yet the Legion of Christ is “Vatican II conservative”. It’s “never criticize the Church” attitude means that Legion of Christ is very anti-traditionalist as well as anti-liberal. There are many controversial aspects of the Legion’s practice and spirituality, in addition to its founder’s misdeeds.

Then there was the Society of St. John, that group of “traditionalist” priests in PA who had been kicked out of the Society of St. Pius X and then rejected by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter for their open homosexuality.

The only other exception I can think of is the vague accusation against utlra-conservative Fr. Christopher Buckner of Arlington Diocese, and, while there are some indicators that the accusations may have grounding, the Diocese has not even specified what the accusations *are*, nor has the diocese apparently proceeded in any kind of investigation.

We hear all sorts of vitriol against “conservative” Cardinal Law–who supported inclusive language and the abuse of extraordinary ministers of holy communion–even though:
a) his main “crime” was listening to professional psychiatrists’ advice
and
b) most of it was done not by Law but by his auxiliaries.

Yet the worst diocese of all in this scandal has proven to be the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, with uiltra-liberal Roger Mahony. The only bishops who’ve been directly accused–in various degrees of validation–are liberals like Rembert Weakland, Joseph Bernadin or Theodore McCarrick.

Now, one of the most heterodox Orders, which has strayed quite far from its founder, has a province filing for bankruptcy. Let’s also not forget how the same Jesuit superior who tried to “slap down” Fr. Fessio in 2002 was accused of keeping numerous pedophile priests in his own residence.

Jill Stanek weighs in on both "Octomom" and the Natural Law

First, she points out that Nadya Suleman apparently only intended to have two children via IVF. But when she found out that’s not how it works, and she’d have to create multiple embryos, she didn’t want to see them destroyed. The last time, she was implanted with 6 embryos, and only 2 made it to term. So she didn’t quite expect all eight to make it, but she wanted to give them a chance–and, famously, refused to abort any.

So, in that sense, it’s a pro-life statement.

And her poverty should not be an issue. The Church very clearly teaches that society has a duty to support parents economically. It is ridiculous to judge anyone based upon money. A pauper can win the lottery. A billionaire can end up in prison for defrauding stockholders.

However, her unmarried status *is* an issue. There’s nothing morally wrong with an unmarried person adopting (though two parents are best). A person who conceives in rape and carries the child is doing something wonderful. A person who conceives in fornication and carries the baby to term is brining good out of evil.

But this woman has intentionally chosen to have children out of wedlock using a morally illicit procedure.

Most of the Catholics I’ve seen writing on this story have said, basically, “Let’s ignore everything else and give her praise for not having abortions.” But Protestant Jill Stanek has articulated very clearly what Catholics *should* be saying.

I tend toward Catholic teaching that it is morally wrong to create the image of God in a petri dish. [. . .] Generally speaking, I think IVF is just another attempt to avoid the consequences of illicit sex. [. . . ] Following or disregarding God’s guidelines for sexual behavior likewise leads to fertility or infertility.
Analogy: Jews avoided the Bubonic Plague by following God’s laws for diet and hygiene (so noticeably they were accused of spreading it among Gentiles and persecuted).
Desires for personal population control and illicit sex have resulted in the Pill, abortion and STDs, all complicit in the current epidemic of infertility, as is disregarding the prime years God built women to procreate. The Pill plays a secondary role by leeching estrogen into our drinking water.
I am not making a blanket statement on the cause of infertility. But if we would restore sexual values, we’d see a big drop.
Now to the gift Nadya Suleman has given pro-lifers. In one fell swoop Suleman has spotlighted problems with unregulated IVF and turned public opinion against unregulated IVF.
Now is the time for pro-lifers to introduce legislation in their states regulating IVF and with it regulating the creation and care of embryos.

B. Father Damien to be Hawai’i’s first saint

With one brother-in-law who lived in Hawai’i for several years and another who took Fr. Damien as his confirmation saint, this canonization should provide an important intercessor for our family.

Pray for us!

Dolan: A Man’s Man

Despite my own views on professional sports, particularly those that take place on Sundays (and those who go golfing or go to the football game in lieu of church), several of the articles on Archbishop Dolan have pointed out that one of his claims to fame is his sports fanaticism. They say he gives the persona of a football coach, and there is hope that this will lend to greater vocations for the Archdiocese of New York.

One immediate question, though, is whether there was a rise in vocations in Milwaukee under Dolan’s leadership. According to the vocations page of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, there were three priests ordained in 2005 (of course, those three would have begun the seminary under Bishop Weakland). There were five ordained in 2006. Two in 2007. One in 2008. There are six deacons in the class of 2009. And there are 18 other seminarians set to be ordained between 2010 and 2012. There are about 12 men in the “college program.”

A successful vocations program is a combination of both a good bishop and a good vocations director, as Arlington experienced under the winning combination of Bishop Keating and Fr. Gould in the 1990s. And a good vocations director is more important than a good bishop–as Savannah experienced in the late 1990s/early 2000s with Fr. Brett Brannen.

When a vocations director is enthusiastic and positive, a diocese gets vocations. When a vocations director walks around saying, “Vocations are low! Woe is us!” vocations dwindle.

And another factor is what kind of Catholicism the potential priests grew up with. Rembert Weakland had 25 years to screw up the faith of the children in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Conversely, both Egan and O’Connor were regarded as “conservative” bishops, even if Egan has had some blatant flaws compared to Cardinal O’Connor. So those who’ve grown up in New York over the past 25 years should have had a better foundation than those who grew up in Milwaukee before Dolan came in.

In any case, a “macho” priest or bishop is always a good influence. My father-in-law says, “If they ever ordained women, all the men would leave.” A classic _Crisis_ article deals with the fact that Western religions tend to appeal to women more than men, even with a “male dominated” priesthood. The article cited a “joke” by which religion and life are like football: the “real men” are out in the field playing the game (“real life”) while the ministers sit in the stands, explaining it to the women.

The idea of priests not being “real men” is always a stigma the Church has had to deal with, but especially in recent years, with the rampant homosexuality in the priesthood affirming an old anti-Catholic canard.

Once, while preaching in the streets, St. Louis de Montfort was mocked by a bunch of drunken “real men” standing outside a bar. He walked over and promptly pummeled them all. All of them were in attendance at Mass the next Sunday.

So a “football coach” bishop ought to be a good thing.

Traditional Latin Mass readings for Ash Wednesday

Epistle: Joel 2:12-19 : Call a fast! Get everyone together, blow trumpets and call a fast! And if you do it, God will bless you abundantly afterwards
Gospel Matt 6:6-21: Dont’ be like the hypocrites.

Why on Ash Wednesday do we read the Gospel about not making a show of our fasting and not covering our head with Ashes?

Catholicism is full of paradoxes.